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Propaganda, fake news two sides of same coin: FM

Propaganda, fake news two sides of same coin: FM

Meriam Jelliti
Governments conducting campaigns of disinformation should be held accountable, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani said, noting that propaganda and fake news were the two sides of the same coin.
Sheikh Mohammed was speaking at the Global Security Forum inaugurated by Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al Thani in Doha on Tuesday.
The two-day event brought ministers and high-profile officials from all over the world to explore the security challenges posed by disinformation campaigns. It also drew the participation of a range of experts from media, academia, entertainment, humanitarian sector and international organisations.
In an interview with senior journalist and MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi at the forum, Qatar’s Foreign Minister said the country had been a victim of several cyberattacks, leading to “aggressive policies” against Qatar. He was referring to the unjust siege imposed on Qatar by some of its neighbours in 2017 following a hack attack on its official news agency, QNA.
“We believe it is very important that the international community addressed this issue of disinformation campaigns.”
Addressing a question on Al Jazeera’s reliability and accuracy in presenting news, the minister said, “In Qatar, we strongly believe the Arab people deserve to get the right information. This was the purpose of establishing Al Jazeera in the first place. And distancing ourselves as a government from the channel was the only way of achieving its worldwide popularity.”
The minister said the Qatari government believed in the freedom of speech and that formed the basis of its support to Al Jazeera’s independence.
“The UK and the US have independent networks sponsored by the government and so does Qatar. We support Al Jazeera but we don’t interfere in the media process.”
Sheikh Mohammed was categorical in dismissing allegations of Qatar financing terrorist organisations and campaigns tying it to certain groups.
“All these accusations don’t make any sense. They are conflicted and unreasonable. Accusing Qatar is very easy now but we have proven that we are bound by our principles. All these headlines and news sponsored by foreign countries are fake news.”

Terming Qatar’s alleged support to the Muslim Brotherhood as baseless allegations, the minister said the claim was made by countries fearing the Arab Spring — a series of uprisings that spread across North Africa and the Middle East in the 2010s as a response to oppressive regimes.
The minister pointed out that Qatar has only supported the choice of the people. “When (Egypt’s) Mohammad Morsi was elected (as the president in 2012), he was chosen by the people. He was not installed by Qatar. Whether we are with or against the ideology of this party or group, we must always support the people.
“In Tunisia, we have a living example. Its first elected president after the revolution was from the Muslim Brotherhood. He was followed by a liberal party president. And now, the new president is an independent leader. Qatar has always been supporting Tunisia. In fact, Qatar is the second-largest investor in Tunisia after France.”
Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar had been acting as a facilitator between parties in conflict, such as the Taliban and the US.
“In Lebanon as well, we facilitated an agreement among several parties. Our only interest is the stability of those countries,” the minister said.

Aids transparent
Addressing the current situation in Gaza, the minister said the people were suffering and in desperate need of basic rights.
“It is our duty to support them. Our funding to Gaza is transparent. It is going for the construction of homes, hospitals and schools, and providing electricity and other basic needs,” he said.
“We assist families directly and through developmental projects. All these aids are going to Palestinians through Israeli borders with Israeli approval.”

‘Turkey only eliminating threat in Syria’
Talking about the situation in Syria, the minister said Turkey had been trying to solve create a safe zone within Syria for over a year.
“With the leadership of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) migrating to Syria and threatening Turkey’s security, Turkey is now collaborating with the Free Syrian Army. Their only target is to eliminate the threat.
“We want to see nations celebrating their freedom and rights. We have always been against violence and we have always supported civilised processes for making peace,” he said, expressing his hope for a better future for Syria.